Overview of Canine Skull Fractures
Fractures of the bones of the skull occur after head trauma – usually a fall from a height or a motor vehicle accident in dogs.
The symptoms of a skull fracture are related to the area of the skull that is affected. Fractures of the nose and upper jaw region can cause difficulties in breathing and chewing. Fractures of the cheek bone can cause difficulties with the adjacent eye. Fractures of the part of the skull that protects the brain can cause neurological deficits due to injury to the underlying brain. Neurological deficits can range from minor to more severe. The potential long-term effects of these fractures range from none to lifelong neurological dysfunction and death.
What to Watch For
Signs of a fractured skull in dogs may include:
Diagnosis of Skull Fractures in Dogs
No laboratory tests are required to make the diagnosis, but other diagnostic tests may include:
Treatment of Skull Fractures in Dogs
Emergency care for concurrent problems caused by the trauma is paramount. Once the dog is stabilized, additional treatment may include:
Home Care and Prevention
Fractures of the skull usually require confinement and restriction of your dog’s activity for several weeks. Bleeding from the mouth or nose may continue for several days after these fractures. If the upper jaw is affected, soft (canned) foods of gruel can be fed.
Neurological deficits may take many days to several months to recover (if they return at all). Nursing care is very important in order to avoid bedsores from pressure while lying down and skin problems from urinating and/or defecating while lying down.
A recheck appointment with the veterinarian may occur in several weeks to evaluate how the bone is healing (with new radiographs), to monitor your pet’s neurological progress and make sure it is safe to increase your dog’s activity level.
Many traumatic events are true accidents and thus unavoidable. Avoid the chance for motor vehicle trauma by keeping your dog confined to a fenced in area and walking him on a leash.